By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
In the future, having a four-year bachelor’s degree may no longer set you apart from the rest of the workforce. It may not be the case in all career fields, but getting a master’s degree is increasingly important when you’re trying to obtain a professional position.
Master’s degrees are about three times as expensive as undergraduate degrees, so utilizing student aid properly is of paramount importance for avoiding massive debt.
School loans should be a last resort. However, there are other options of paying for a graduate degree.
Grants, Fellowships and Scholarships
Apply for every grant, fellowship and scholarship you can find. Grants and scholarships are common Federal Student Aid (FSA) lingo, but fellowships may not be quite as well-known.
A fellowship is usually a grant reserved just for graduate students who pursue a degree in a certain field of study. Many grants, fellowships and scholarships are available, so make sure you take advantage of them whenever possible.
Tuition Reimbursement and Waivers
A lot of companies will encourage you to further your education. They may offer tuition reimbursement to help you afford additional education.
With tuition reimbursement, you pay the costs of tuition up front. Your company reimburses you for the costs after you successfully complete a course.
Some colleges offer tuition waivers, especially to university employees. If you have an offer to pay little to nothing for your graduate tuition, take advantage of it.
Assistantships are a great way to help pay for your graduate tuition. Working as a graduate assistant provides you with an opportunity to work at a university in exchange for your tuition.
Depending on the university, you may also get a stipend to go along with your tuition. Assistantships are also excellent opportunities for someone who does not already have an established career.
There are other ways to pay for a graduate degree, including FSA loans, PLUS loans, private loans and paying out of pocket, but exploring other methods of payment is by far the best practice. You should take out loans only after you have exhausted all other efforts to find funding for your graduate school education.